Archive | September 2013

Grain Free Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Well, it happened, I turned 29 again.  This year, I’m celebrating the 15 pounds I’ve lost since my last birthday, the improvements in my general health since last year, and all the knowledge I’ve gained in the past year!  I was blessed to celebrate my birthday with my husband, family, and friends this week.  There was great company, excellent food, and most of all there were cookies that I could actually eat!

cookies

If you’re grain free, then you know how the world seems to brighten when you can enjoy grain free treats that don’t taste like they’re grain free at all!  The first batch of cookies was courtesy of my amazing aunt.   After we enjoyed a birthday dinner, she told me she had a treat for me.  While out shopping, she stumbled upon a cookie mix from XO baking Co, and was delighted to find that these cookies were not only gluten free, but also grain free!  We enjoyed the cookies and decided we should absolutely try and find the mix again.

When I tried to locate the mix on line I immediately had sticker shock!  While I will probably order a few packages of the mix to keep on hand for times when I don’t feel like baking cookies from scratch, it’s certainly not a price I want to pay weekly to keep my sweet tooth happy.  So obviously, I’m not going to do without cookies.  I’ll just have to come up with a recipe that I can make from scratch!

Last night we were having guests over, so it was a perfect time to try out a new recipe.  I’ve been working on a new grain free flour blend, one that’s a bit liter than the first.  I’ve used it in baking my bread and it’s worked very well.  To look at this flour, it’s hard to distinguish it from white four at all.  It does have a different taste when it is uncooked, but once heated to boiling temperatures, the taste disappears and you’d swear you’re eating something made with white flour. I decided it was time to try baking some cookies with this new flour.

chcolate chip cookie bars

The result was happy guests who said the cookie bars were pretty much indistinguishable from grain based baked goods.  If the grain lovers go for seconds, I’m pretty sure the recipe’s a keeper.

Wet Ingredients:

2 eggs (or 2T flax seed plus 6T warm water)

1 cup butter or coconut oil

¾ cup white sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

1t vanilla

 

Dry Ingredients:

1 3/4 cup my grain free flour blend (Mix A)

1t baking soda

1t xanthum gum

12 oz chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cream butter and sugar using an electric mixer.  Add eggs and vanilla and blend well.  Mix in my grain free flour blend.  When well blended, stir in in xanthum gum and baking soda.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Spoon batter into an 8x 10 inch baking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Bars are done when a knife is inserted to center and comes out clean.  Cool until room temperature then slice into 1 inch bars.

I’m not giving in to the infertility blues!

As I begin a new cycle, I’m tempted to go to that dark place where despair, inadequacy, frustration, and doubt lurk.  Like many women living with infertility, I’ve been there a few times before; regardless of how many times I’ve been there, it’s not a place I’m going today.

despair

There’s no magic reason, no drug or therapist that is responsible for this choice, it’s just me.  As I look at my situation, I have much to be thankful for. Thanks to a NaproTechnology, we have the best chances we’ve ever had!  For the first time that I’m aware of, my body reached the optimum zone for fertility: my estradiol level hit 399 before peak day, optimum ovulation requires it be between 300 and 400; my peak plus seven estradiol level was 116 and my progesterone was 28.  I couldn’t ask for more in terms of chemistry.

And yet I’m not pregnant.  Wish I knew why!  There are some things we’re not meant to know and of course, everything comes in God’s time.  I may very well be like my grandmother (and her mother before her) and give birth after 40.  Who knows what God has planned for me?

baby steps to big dreams

It’s tempting to allow the thought that God does not have motherhood in his plan for me, but I’m not going there, not till I have to.  I will enjoy every beautiful day that is filled with my husband, Frank, and our four beautiful fur babies.  I will appreciate my students for all the joy and richness they bring to my life.  I will appreciate the irony that I have more young women without mothers in my class than ever before, I will be the confidant they need because it gives me purpose on this journey.

I’m not out of hope yet.  My doctor defines that as completing 12 cycles at optimum levels without conceiving.  One down eleven to go.  That’s eleven more tries, eleven more months for my body to get healthy enough to nourish another life.   I feel that I owe it to my body, mind, and soul to give this all I’ve got.

This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.  I’m not going to quit or even entertain the thought that motherhood is not in my future.  Why?  Because I’m surrounded by an amazing supportive network of friends, coworkers, church family, even some biological relatives, and of course my amazing husband.  They’ve been my cheerleaders, carried me when I couldn’t get through on my own, and offered innumerable prayers on my behalf.  Their encouragement keeps me going.

friend meme

It would be so easy for them to focus on their own tiny circles and just inquire now and then.  Yet their support is steadfast.  I am blessed to have them in my corner.  During those times I have ended up giving in to despair and allowing myself to feel the letdown of a new cycle, they’ve pulled me out and reminded me what I’m working towards.

Knowing the effects of stress and negativity on the body, I’m not giving in to them.  I refuse to do anything that could make me less healthy.  I’ve given up grains, dyes, artificial foods, changed my lifestyle, and I can see the physical manifestations of these changes.  The evidence that my treatment is working increases by the day.  I won’t do anything to jeopardize that.   I firmly believe that I am on my way towards motherhood and better health.  Nothing, not doubt, stress, negativity, nor despair will jeopardize that.

My Short Career in Our State’s Foster to Adoption Program… Part I

After more than two years on this journey, we had to consider the idea that we might be called to adopt.  Although we had been trying for more than two years, my hormone levels still hadn’t reached the optimum zone.  Dr. C, my NaProTechnology doctor, was starting to question if my body was truly ovulating.

Woman sitting in bed, holding stomach

Since diligence, not patience, has always been my strongest virtue, my first reaction was not to wait and pray about it, but to research how the whole thing happens.  After talking with friends and gathering information, we decided it was something we’d be interested in knowing more about.

This was an easy discussion for us.  When we were newly married and dreaming of our future family, we always saw either adoption or foster care as part of our family.  We love our careers and having married so young,  we thought perhaps adopting once our biological children were in middle school or high school would be a good thing for us and a child who would benefit from being part of a family.  (I’m aware of how presumptuous we were being, thinking we’d just get pregnant and have as many biological children as we wanted)

adopt

We decided that we’d like to adopt a child from our local community and so connected with our state’s foster care / adoption program.  We attended an open house and as luck would have it, we were the only family in attendance.  We got to ask all of our questions and I cried a lot.  Having to tell a total stranger that we were interested in adopting one of the children in their care because we can’t have our own made me feel a little selfish, but it’s the reality we’re living in.  We were looking for a child to foster, and there are plenty of children looking for a home.

We filled out the papers for background checks and made an appointment for our initial home inspection.  Our caseworker told us she’d be looking for two means of egress in the child’s bedroom, making sure that it would be on the same floor as ours, as well as initial overview of our home.  No big deal, we’d just make sure to do the dishes that morning, and make the bed before she came.

meeting

Well the day of our appointment happened to be the same day as our (not so) molar pregnancy.  It was quite the day.  By the time the caseworker arrived at our home, we had been through the wringer, but this was important enough for us to keep our appointment.  Our caseworker met our dogs, viewed our home and pronounced it a perfect place for children.  We were told that some more paper work needed to be done and that we might get an invitation to the upcoming foster parents’ class in early September.

Thank God for keeping infertility a surprise…

Women often say that they wish they had known about their infertility years before trying.  Perhaps they are thinking that they might have been able to do something to change the situation they are in.  Not me, I believe that God has a plan for us all, and specifically that he has a plan for where he wants me.

 

Let me explain, I was pretty foolish in my youth.  I didn’t drink, do drugs, or anything else that was illegal, I was just really self-centered and concerned about me what my life would be in later years. In fairness, my family situation wasn’t the greatest, so planning for a life that allowed me to leave that situation was a priority.  My husband, Frank, and I have been together since our senior year of high school. While I was in college, he worked as an apprentice.  He proposed the day I graduated from college, and long before that we were already starting to plan our life together.  We both wanted to be parents, but agreed that children deserved to have certain things.  We both grew up without certain luxuries and wanted our children to have toys like big wheels, dollhouses, jungle gyms, and a yard of our own to play in.

dream of a family

If I knew that I would struggle with fertility, I would have done things differently, and not for the better.  While many women in college may not think about being a mom one day, I was already dating my husband at the time. When I finished college, we had already been dating for four and a half years.  I can imagine my 20 year old self, saying, “Why finish college?  I’ll never really need the income since I won’t be able to have a family! Why get married after all? If I can’t be a mom, then maybe I’m not meant to be married.”  Had I known that I’d struggle with becoming a mom, I may just have been stupid enough to push the whole idea of marriage right off the table.

Yup, that was me in my 20's!

Yup, that was me in my 20’s!

Regardless, of what the future holds for us, I know that I am a better person because of Frank.  He is my everything.  I know that without him, my life wouldn’t be even a quarter of what it is with him in it.  The life that we share as a couple is ten times better than any life than I ever could have built on my own.  I know this now, but could not have had any hope of comprehending this in my late teens or early twenties.  The me I was always concerned with, has been replaced by “us”  the amazing bond and promise that means we won’t ever be without support, love, or a reason to smile.

supportive husband

So, yeah, I was pretty stupid back then.  But honestly, it doesn’t matter.  I was smart enough to dream that Frank and I could have a life together.  Sooner or later, I know we’ll get there.  I believe we are where we’re supposed to be and there’s a purpose for all this.  Thanks for joining me on this journey!  Love, Catherine